CEDAR RAPIDS — Whether you’re Irish by birth or by blarney, downtown Cedar Rapids is the place to be Saturday afternoon for the annual paradin’ of the green.
St. Patrick (aka Steve Bryant of Cedar Rapids) will lead 100 parade entries as they snake along the traditional route, down Second and Third avenues between Sixth and Second streets SE, from 1 to 2:30 or 3 p.m., ending — appropriately — at Greene Square.
That’s a far cry from the inaugural 4-minute parade in 1976.
The parade will feature a flotilla of floats, a fleet of families, a cascade of cars, a covey of candidates and at least of duo of marching musicians, including the new Crescendo Percussion Ensemble drum line and the Hawkeye pep band from radio station Z102.9.
And because the holiday falls on a Saturday, organizers from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Society — dubbed SaPaDaPaSo — are expecting even more spectators than usual.
“We don’t really have a scientific way to determine how many people are actually there,” said SaPaDaPaSo President Samantha Morin of Cedar Rapids. “We usually say a weekday parade probably gets around 15,000 people. We’re expecting maybe five (thousand) to 10 (thousand) more.
“It seems ludicrous, that number, but with people inside buildings, people outside and how long our parade route is, it’s definitely possible.”
The forecast is for highs in the upper 40s, with the possibility of showers in the morning. With any (Irish) luck, it will be clear by parade time.
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The fun doesn’t end with the parade either. It continues at the post-parade party from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Flamingo, 1211 Ellis Blvd. NW. Admission is free, and food and drink will be available for purchase. Festivities include a DJ spinning tunes for dancing a jig or two. Parade winners will be announced around 4:30 p.m.
Downtown streets will close to traffic at 11 a.m. along the parade route and adjacent staging areas. They are expected to reopen around 3 p.m., according to Mary Oehler, the city’s traffic engineering program administrator.
Affected streets are:
• Second Avenue SE from Second Street SE to Seventh Street SE
• Third Avenue SE from First Street SE to Sixth Street SE
• Fourth Avenue SE from Fifth Street SE to Eighth Street SE
• Second Street SE from First Avenue SE to Fourth Avenue SE
• Third Street SE from First Avenue SE to Fourth Avenue SE
• Fifth Street SE from First Avenue SE to Fourth Avenue SE
• Sixth Street SE from First Avenue SE to Third Avenue SE
• Sixth Street SE from Third Avenue SE to Fifth Avenue SE
• Seventh Street SE from Third Avenue SE to Fifth Avenue SE
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